PGM prices have rallied strongly over the past few weeks, despite the strikes in South Africa having finally come to an end. We believe investors are finally focusing on the fundamentals of platinum and palladium and believe that prices will continue to rise as the industry struggles to get back to full production. More structural changes are foreseen in the near future, with PGM prices likely to benefit from increased tightness.
- Platinum and palladium prices have risen by 5.3% and 4.1% respectively since an “in principle” agreement between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the three biggest miners (Amplats, Implats and Lonmin) was reached on June 12, 2014, posing an end to the 5-month long strike in South Africa.
- Continued tensions in the Ukraine, coupled with news of a new strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and continued strength in auto sales, buoyed Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) prices over the past few weeks.
- While the 220,000 engineering and metal workers strike by the NUMSA is unlikely to impair platinum and palladium production in the short term, given the geographical concentration of PGM supply, social activism and government intervention in the South African mining industry will continue to have an impact on prices.
- Amplats, the biggest platinum producer, already announced its intention to exit Rustenburg after the latest prolonged strikes have seriously impacted the company’s profitability. Some of the other miners are also assessing the long-term viability of some of their mines which might be permanently closed or downsized.
- We remain positive the fundamentals of platinum and palladium and believe that prices will continue to perform strongly in 2014. Large deficits are already expected in both markets this year and the recent pick up in global auto sales is likely to exacerbate the situation further. With combined auto sales in the US, China and Europe, the three biggest regions by consumption, up 6% in the first five months of 2014 on the previous year, the PGM market is looking increasingly tight.
- We believe the strikes in South Africa have substantially affected the long-term prospects of the PGM industry and that only in the next few months we will be able to appreciate the financial and strategic impact on the industry. Meanwhile, we continue to target platinum and palladium prices to rise to US$1,550 and US$ 858/oz respectively in the next six months.